Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THE OLDEN DAYS


So, I'm in Target the other day at lunch...was roaming about in the kitchen/housewares section killing some time.  I saw a woman pick up one of these cheese graters and the little girl riding in her basket looked at it, curiously, and asked what it was...

Ye Olde Cheese Grater
The woman said that "in the olden days it was how people had to make grated cheese".  The little girl scrunched up her face and went back to the distraction of her Mother's smart phone.

THE OLDEN DAYS?
Seriously?

Have we changed that much as a society and prepackaged shredded cheese has become so ubiquitous that the next generation will not know how to take a block of cheese and shred it by hand?  I'm not yet 50 but one of my fun memories is actually begging to be the one to shred the cheese for some dinner casserole my Mom or Grandma was making.  I loved watching that solid block turn into fluffy mounds of cheese heaven.  I enjoyed shredding it and not pulling it up until it was overfull (or Mom said 'OK, that's enough') and then watching all the cheese fall onto the plate.  It always seemed like way more than was possible.

We have two of these "olden days" graters, one in town and one at the farm. Isn't it the ultimate in non-electric utilitarianism?  What's next, knives are from the days of yore?  Ancient antiquity manual can opener?  

What about you...anything you use that someone else might say is from the olden days?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

RAIN AND SKIN OH MY


It was a wet weekend...well, a wet Saturday.  Nothing 'outside' got accomplished but there were some inside chores done and that's always a good thing.  Sunday, today, we had to stay in town and run errands for here.  

Now for the one bad thing:


Found a shed snake skin under the sink in the bathroom!  I didn't get a picture of that because, quite frankly, my heart stopped and all I could wonder was where it was.  Running to get the camera was the least of my thoughts.  And hey, we have 11 acres now, the bathroom was not immediately necessary, LOL.  And here is where the story gets better worse:

2nd Family told us that they recently found a live snake under their kitchen sink...a COPPERHEAD!  She quickly shut the cabinet door, put something large and heavy up against it and went to get her husband.  He got a long snake grabber type stick, and his gun and they slowly opened the door.  IT WAS GONE!  I asked them which hotel they stayed at that night but they just chalked it up to life in the country.  Hubby was going to crawl under their house and check for openings.  He suggested I do the same.

I'm still writing down hotel numbers for the speed dial...

No, no...I'll crawl under there, when it cools down of course and see what I can find.  The farmhouse sits up high so it's easy to get underneath.  For a few minutes I thought, "well, snakes eat mice so it's not the worst thing..." then when I heard they had a close encounter with a deadly snake, no.  I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get rid of snakes.  I'll trap the mice, that we can handle.  Snakes in cabinets?  Not only no, but HELL no!

Does snake repellent work?
ANYONE?  IDEAS?


AMERICAN CHOCOLATE FUND, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

American Chocolate Fund, vintage poster image, courtesy of  Imperial War Museum archives
Now this poster image is one we had NO idea they did.  An American Chocolate Fund for the the US forces in France.  It dates from WWI.  I don't really know the history behind it but from what I could find, it was not too unlike the campaigns today to send 'treats' to soldiers serving overseas.  There was actually a movement to send chocolate and tobacco.  

"The comforts of home" as they say...

Hope you all are having a good weekend.  We've been foiled by rain, yesterday, today is better but of course today we have in town errands to do.  More later, including comment replying...thanking all of you for your nice words on our blog anniversary yesterday.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

BLOGOVERSARY BLOGIVERSARY BLOGAVERSARY

Today, it's off to the farm to spend the day working in the garden, cleaning up the annoying grass runners that have taken over the first 1/3 of the garden.  Since I've already been on the big green zen machine the other day during the week (after the land closing), the garden will be the next target.

SO while we're at the farm working on things...


Four years ago, I sat down at the computer and started typing.  I wondered if anyone would even be interested in watching our progress as we made plans to buy some land with an old house on it?  Then, would they come along as we started working on it, not knowing how the journey would progress?

Four years later, here we are.
Some stats:

489 FOLLOWERS (come on 500)
1,850 POSTS (including this one)
15,746 COMMENTS (and counting)
2,451,900 PAGE VIEWS (this one still amazes us)

Fixing things up at the farm is a slow process, some of the time it's successful, and other times, not so much...but that's what we expected when we set out on the journey.  We are just grateful that all of you have come along for the journey and keep coming back.  It's been a wonderful journey, we've made so many friends we didn't know we could have and we love all of you!

Here's to many more years, hope y'all will stay along for the ride!
The best is yet to come!


We're still not sure the correct spelling of a blog anniversary, LOL!

Blogi?  Blogo?  Bloga?
Whatever it is, thank you all!


Friday, September 26, 2014

SWEET LITTLE GIFT





Just had to share this so that she would know how much we like it.  

A very special friend of the farm sent this to us.  What a pleasant surprise!  The neat thing about this little pig is that he is made out of spoons.  It comes via a crafter on Etsy.

Of course, the fact that it was also personalized with the name of our farm (Seda Bolsa) makes it even more special.

Thank you very much!  As you can see, it's hanging on the wall, just as we walk in the front door, where we hang our keys.  We will always treasure it!


Tomorrow is a milestone day for the blog, more on that tomorrow.


GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY, FELINE FRIDAY


Big Lou, the guilty or not guilty cat
We haven't shared a picture of this guy before.  He is a feral cat that lives in the backyard in town.  His name is Louis (the neighbor across the street named him), we call him Big Lou.  Sadly, as much as we interact with him, he just won't let us touch him.  He has been trapped and neutered once upon a time and so he doesn't roam around like other strays.  He likes to hang around in our backyard and the yard of the lady across the street.

I think he really did knock this over, as he was jumping down off the fence where he always does, but really, we must have 20 more clay pots where this one came from...it's not the end of the word.  He did have that kind of guilty look though, like he wanted us to think it wasn't him.  

More later today!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

FARM FOUNTAIN, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Fountain, by artist http://blandhoke.blogspot.com/2008/01/till-fountain.html
Sometimes, the inspiration we find comes from someone else finding it for us.  Case in point, this picture that Linda, a 'Friend of the Farm', found for us.  She knows us well, we love it!  This fountain is SO cool.

You know what it is?  Look at it sideways.  It's a disc tiller for a tractor!  The artist took a rusty farm implement and made it into a fountain.  Cool huh?  

I don't know much about disc tillers but this just fascinates me and since we'd love to have a fountain at the farm, someday of course, re-purposing something like this would be such a great idea.  Thanks Linda for finding the photo for us!

Be Inspired...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BIGGER IS BETTER

HUH?  FOR SALE?  SOLD?  WHAT?

Buying rural land
No no, we didn't sell, we actually bought!

It's been in the works for the last couple of months but I didn't want to bring it up for fear of jinxing it.  Our blog header has always said it will document our "journey to 10 acres in the country".  That was actually rounding off.  We actually owned about 9 acres.  There was another section of land that we hadn't purchased yet and we've been planning for it the last couple of years.  We actually thought it might end up being another couple of years but we were asked if we wanted it sooner rather than later and we said yes!  It meant we had to put off some projects, such as the new roof for example, because we had to use savings for the down payment of course.

This is land we've already been using, or at least had access to, and were told to just treat it as if it were already ours.  So I've been mowing it and including it in our adventuring around the property.  In a way, this is just a transaction that's a necessity for legal purposes and we won't have a new spot on the property to play with or explore.  But hey, at least we know now that it's ALL OURS and more than anything else, that's a good feeling. 

Buying raw land isn't quite as easy as you might think.  Trying to refi the house and existing land was not something they (the bank) wanted to do, we hadn't owned it long enough for that...plus they don't really like raw land at the big 'national' bank chains.  Paying cash for it was not something we could do either. Land in these parts is going for quite a bit per acre.  We were told to find a rural bank in a small town near the farm.  We got a great referral from the survey company and the process has been great.  With no buildings or structures or utilities, they pushed it right on through.  We just had to make sure that the appraisal was at or higher than the purchase price (it was).  The financial terms on raw land are a bit more than on land with a home already on it; a bit higher interest rate...less years to pay for it...and a larger down payment.  We figure in a few years, when the house is in better shape for inspection and we have a barn and other infrastructure done, we'll just roll both loans into one note.  

Yesterday morning at 10am was our closing.  It took about 15 minutes...5 minutes to sign the paperwork and 10 minutes to talk about the recent weather...gotta love life in small towns...


So now we officially own not 9, not 10, but 11 acres of land...and the blog header has been adjusted...





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HAPPY AUTUMN

A simple and quick post today...

Subway art courtesy of http://thepinkinkdoodle.blogspot.com 
OK, so it started last night but today is the first full day...and the weather has cooled down (a bit) here...it's so pretty!

This first day of Fall is bringing a bit of change to the farm, but more on that tomorrow.  Today, I am AT the farm, on a workday...after a brief errand this morning that is actually happening as this posts.  Again, more tomorrow.


Stay tuned!

Monday, September 22, 2014

MESQUITE BEAN POD HARVESTING

For those curious about the mesquite tree here are two links:

This is the WIKI LINK

This is the TEXAS ALMANAC LINK

Mesquite bean pods on a tree
It was mesquite bean pod harvesting day a couple weekends ago and I realized I hadn't posted about it yet.  There were still quite a few hanging in trees, as you can see above.  They hang in the trees and kind of drop off as they dry out and are ready for harvesting.  Unfortunately, after all our rains, this was all we'd be able to harvest this first season.

Mesquite pods on the ground
Alas, there were just as many, if not more, on the ground under the trees.  We've read that you can get the ones on the ground as long as they haven't been wet and gotten mildew on them.  I stuck to getting them from the trees themselves, it was simpler (and easier on the old back, ha).

Mesquite harvesting
I grabbed our red metal pail and started pulling.  Side note, the red bucket does not glow, LOL, the camera just didn't like the sun shining on it.  Anyway, I grabbed the tree branches (being careful of the thorns!) and started gathering.  I was in a hurry because the sky was getting dark and rain was coming.

Gathering mesquite bean pods
Ended up with a large amount for this first time and will, hopefully, get the last next weekend.  Things we've learned in the gathering process:

Should have harvested a couple of weeks ago.
(Labor Day weekend might be a good rule of thumb)

After they have turned light brown on the tree, they should almost come off in your hand without much pulling.  In fact, shaking the branch will cause many of them to just go ahead and drop off...these are the ones you want.

If you have to pull on them, they aren't quite ready.
(but if you want to pull them, it just means they have to dry them in the sun)

Shake the pod, the seeds should rattle like shaking a salt shaker.



Now, they are currently drying out in the garage in town.

Once they are crispy dry, we'll proceed on to the next step, roasting, steeping, grinding or whatever we have to do for the project we want to try.  We didn't get as many as we hoped since the rains thwarted us, but hopefully we have enough to try at least one or two of the mesquite food items.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

A FEW MORE PLANTS

We stayed in town this weekend which turned out to be good.  We got some errands run, and I made it to the garden center.  Bought two more Texas Lilac/Vitex bushes...for a grand total of seven...then I bought three more Texas sage...for a grand total of six of those.

Then I added these two varieties (forgot to take photos):

Blue plumbago photo from Southernliving.com
Two Blue Plumbago bushes.  We love the pale blue flowers on them.  We may end up with a few more of these as they are supposed to do well in our heat. 

Esperanza, photo courtesy of davesgarden.com
The other variety I got was Gold Star Esperanza, another Texas plant winner that is drought and heat tolerant.  Three of them.  Now if only we could be be more drought and heat tolerant...LOL!

Speaking of, it was a hot weekend.  The rains stopped and the heat came back. Hard to believe tomorrow is the first day of Fall.  It might be where you are but it certainly isn't here yet.  Hope you all had a great weekend!


FARM WORK IS WAR WORK, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Farm Work is War Work, vintage poster image, courtesy of US National Library
This is a really neat poster, love the graphics on this one.  I'm guessing it's more of a backdoor advertisement for International Harvester (makers of tractors) since they are the sponsor.  Farm Work is War Work!  It compares the work of those in the war effort with the work on the farm back home.

I'm guessing this one is perhaps aimed at women and/or girls and since the poster mentions seeing your principal, this was most likely put up in schools during WWII.  "Join the Farm Victory Volunteers" was a youth group.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  We've been running errands in town, sometimes we need those weekends, and today I'm off to get some more plants to hoard save for use at the farm.

It's been dry and the rains have stopped.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

PLANT SALE TIME OF YEAR

We love a plant sale!  Here in Houston, one of the chain garden centers has a great sale.  They do it every year at the end of the season.  All plants/shrubs/trees are at least 70% off.  When you are in the store, some smaller plants are as much as 80% off.  Now we don't buy veggies and/or more unusual plants at the chain places, we prefer the local nurseries and feed stores for their more hard to find local and heirloom varieties, but since we are trying to add more color to the farm, any generic ornamental tree/shrub is fair game. 

We love our greens and of course the seasonal wildflowers in the Spring, but we need more.  So earlier this year, we planted five Vitex/Chaste trees along the driveway.  Click HERE to see that.  They are also known by the more descriptive name of "Texas Lilac" due to their resemblance to lilacs.  We just didn't have enough to line the entire driveway.





We already had one in town, so we ended up buying four more for a total of five.  That should completely line the driveway.

$5 each!



This is what the flowers look like, long spikes of purple/blue flowers.  They have a bit of a scent that is most noticeable when they are in full bloom.



This is Texas Sage. We bought three of them.  They are VERY drought tolerant, in fact, they can go for weeks without water.  A definite plus there.

$4 each!




It is a medium sized shrub that stays green almost year round and in the heat of Summer, it ends up covered in purple flowers.  Even in poor conditions!


Lastly, we picked up these small Mexican Heather plants, five of them.  They are small shrubs that tolerate a variety of conditions and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

$1 each!



They stay covered Spring to Fall in tiny, delicate, pink flowers. They are a great foreground plant and I'd like to scatter a few around the base of some trees near the house.





$37 total for all!  Boom!  Of course, it's still too hot to plant any of these, but in another month or so, it should be good...hmm, that means the sale will still be going on as well.  Might have to check it out again tomorrow.  I'm thinking some yellow color is needed...and maybe red...and white.

Yeah, that's it.
We need other colors!

2nd Man will just roll his eyes I'm sure...but in a few years, when hopefully it is all growing and colorful, it will all be his idea.  :-)